Man cleared in death of Marco Pantani

ROME -- The Italian Supreme Court cleared a man on appeal Thursday for his part in the cocaine death of former Tour de France champion Marco Pantani.

Fabio Carlino was sentenced to 4½ years in prison in January 2008 after being found guilty of unintentionally causing Pantani's death as a consequence of drug dealing. He was also ordered to pay a $26,000 fine as well as $41,000 in damages to Pantani's family.

The Supreme Court cleared Carlino "because the facts did not constitute a crime," the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

The 34-year-old Pantani, who won the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia in 1998, died in February 2004 in a hotel room in the Adriatic resort town of Rimini. A coroner ruled that the cyclist died from cocaine poisoning that appeared to be accidental.